A blog post from the magazine Chatelaine, a publication/site heretofore unknown to me, has set Twitter abuzz with the assertion that a recent study (albeit highly unscientific) shows that people are happiest when having sex, exercising and going to the theatre.
The immediate impulse to cheer for the home team (theatre, of course; get out of the gutter and the gym) rapidly gives way to amusement about the company we keep in this investigation, and creative minds are no doubt at work pondering how to unite these diverse interests into a single happiness-generating activity to supersede all others. It has already been suggested by others that chocolate might be added to the mix. Needless to say, I would be happy to tackle the research and development on this challenging artistic and social issue (if you know what I mean).
But I foresee a significant problem already, based on a business which has previously tried to merge several of life’s basic pleasures.
Once, perhaps 20 years ago, I dined at a Connecticut outpost of the Hooters restaurant chain, which has successfully combined pulchritude and food to the delight of many and the ire of probably just as many more. Without going into detail, I can attest to the fact that the chain’s signature attractions were in ample supply – but that the food was rather dire, and the accompanying sightseeing did not make up for it. Indeed, I have never again crossed the threshold of any of said establishments, for fear that I would develop a Pavlovian response that correlated attractive women with stomach-churning revulsion.
So even if we manage to address the not insignificant challenges of melding the top three pleasure-givers, as first identified by the respected sociological journal Marie Claire and popularized by Chateleine, I worry that we might well give rise to an entirely new set of psychosexual responses that would be our undoing. Imagine if a particularly successful coupling of sex and exercise took place, say, at a performance of a play the not-entirely-inappropriate Strindberg? The fear of a rise in Strindberg fetishists should be enough to give anyone pause (except, of course, psychanalysts, who would be jumping on their couches for joy). What if this multifaceted entertainment took on, say, O’Neill’s Strange Interlude? As the TV commercials warn us, after four hours, you should call your doctor, and that would result in a series of concurrent and perhaps amusing calls to EMTs for exhaustion and muscle cramps. Even if the theatre of choice were comedy, imagine the dysfunctions that would arise if one required activity at the farcical level of Noises Off to achieve fulfillment.
I will be setting up a think-tank/laboratory to explore this in greater detail, since success in combining these elements would surely sustain the fabulous invalid ad infinitum. But if science fiction has taught us nothing else, perhaps some elements of nature are best left untampered with, and maybe we’ll just have to stick with putting on great shows. Dammit.